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Introduction to compression- How to use compressors


homestudioproject,intro to compression

When it comes to mixing ,many questions come to our minds. One of these and it’s one of the most commons is “ What effects should I use for giving life to my song ,more energy and become radio-ready?”

That’s why today we’re starting a series of plug ins reviews ,which are the most importand and very helpful in the mixing procedure. We begin with compression and how we can use the compressor properly. I have heard a lot of times from friends or my students saying that they don’t know how to use compressor and it’s very complicated. Some of them they just don’t know what a compressor is doing and some of them who are familiar with compressor ,they hesitate to use it,because it has too many knobs.

Compressor is a very powerful tool we have in our disposal ,but it can destroy the entire mix at the same time,if we don’t use it right! I have heard many opinions what a compressor can do such as “ It gives more energy to the song” or “ the song sounds more punchy” or “It makes the song sound louder” and some other like that.

In simple words compressor is just a volume fader. Yes , exactly ! It’s like a volume fader like the ones you have in your digital mixer except that this fader is an automated one. What do I mean by that? Let me explain. Compressor turns down the volume only on the loud parts of a recording! Amazing ?! it’s like you have an assistant for this plug in and he will handle this fader for you.

In the picture below you see a stock compressor that comes with Cubase 5.if you don’t have Cubase but another DAW,that’s ok.All DAW’s have their stock compressor and they are all the same.As you can see compressor has some knobs Attack releas,Threshold, Gain(Make up).Let’s talk about each one of these knobs

homestudioproject,compression,how we use compressors

Attack: With this knob we can define how quickly you want to start compression,how fast you want the compressor to grab the audio signal.It’s like you are saying to your assistant “When you hear the audio,pull the fader down!” if you set slow attack,then you say to your assistant “Let some audio signal pass through for a while and then pull the fader down” Do you understand it? Simple,isn’t it? It depends on the fast or slow attack how quickly the compressor starts compressing –squeezing the audio signal

Release: You can say that it’s the opposite of attack. With this knob you can define how fast you let the audio go and bring it back to its original volume level .If you set fast release it’s like you tell to your assistant “When you turn the audio down you must release it and set the volume level where it was immediately”. With the slow release you tell your assistant to keep the volume fader down for a while and then set it where it was.